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Love Calls Us to the Things of This World

When I let go and awaken to the wonder of the ordinary world, it is love that allows me to see them as more than things and objects. I join those precious people and things in an extraordinary world. Sabbath moments allow this in a world of busyness.

Richard Wilbur wrote this wonderful poem that echoes the Zen Buddhist idea of seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary.

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple
As false dawn.
Outside the open window
The morning air is all awash with angels.

Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.
Now they are rising together in calm swells
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
The soul shrinks

From all that is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessed day,
And cries,
“Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,
The soul descends once more in bitter love
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,

“Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating
Of dark habits,
keeping their difficult balance.”

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

6 responses »

  1. an eerie lil poem. It seems to echo. It can be interpreted a lot of ways! It seems to be about the dream state, and laundressess, both, but the abstract is prolly more germane

    (in terms of applied imagery if that isn’t an oxymoron)

    It’s Tide Fresh…:) that last stanza particularly.

    Reply
  2. It is wonderful, soul probing and hopeful as the angels soar and are viewed by their ‘charge’ (man) who is seeing by means of his astounded soul. He recognizes they are each different from the other and their ‘being’ is filled with joy for this sudden recognition which they express by flight, up, down, fast, or quite still. But then they recognize (as the real dawn comes with rising sun) that the world has not changed and their souls shrink as they recall the daily ‘rape’ of life by man (which I interpret as wickedness or failure to use to advantage) . They descend to their responsibility of love for their charges, and make a plea for cleanliness of the soul but are reminded by the dark of the nun’s habit that that the world is unchanged.

    Reply

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